NAB’s Smith defends “original” wireless: broadcast


Gordon SmithNAB President/CEO delivered a message to Capitol Hill pointing out the immense value that broadcast television brings to the overall US economy, and suggests they protect broadcast’s free service in the face of those who wish to replace it with a fee service.

Smith said that Congress struck a fair balance between broadcast and those wishing to acquire more spectrum for mobile wireless service – it allows television broadcasters to opt out of the business, but also allows those who see a future in broadcast television to continue to provide service.

And provide service they do: Smith noted 186K jobs and $30B in economic activity directly attributable to broadcast television, leading to a ripple effect involving perhaps 1.5M jobs and $716B.

Evidence of broadcast’s continued relevance is plentiful.

* The number of TV households continues to grow

* A significant percentage of minority and foreign language-speaking households are over-the-air only households.

* Young adults are also taking the OTA-only path, resulting in a significant growth curve for OTA-only homes

* Broadcast programs continue to top the charts – amounting to about 95 out of the top 100 shows in a typical week

* Marquee happenings like the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards and many others are available to all without a subscription fee attached

* Perhaps most important of all, broadcast is the go-to source for news and information in times of emergency.

In the latter category, Smith noted that times of emergency are precisely when mobile wireless and its inefficient one-to-one transmission method is rendered useless – when every stressed citizen goes for their cell phone at the same time, the system overloads and simply shuts down. But the broadcast one-to-many transmission method continues to function normally, getting vital information out to the public precisely when it is most needed.

Smith repeated the call for a comprehensive spectrum inventory to determine once and for all just how severe the alleged spectrum crunch really is.

He summed up by saying that broadcast television’s best days lie ahead.